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Taking Care of Business

“Michigan State was a great economic opportunity to be able to get a great education and a great life, and I am very happy to be able to give back some of what was given to me.”

Home Depot CEO Craig Menear

Taking Care of Business

The shorthand for Craig Menear’s rise to corporate CEO reads like the American Dream, Spartan Chapter.

Son of a Flint General Motors tool and die maker, as a kid he started a neighborhood lawn care business. He used his own savings to buy his first car. And he drove it to Michigan State where he slogged his way through two years of math and statistics that didn’t come easy. After graduation, he began his career at the modest, now defunct, retailer Montgomery Ward.

Last August, Craig was named CEO of an American icon: The Home Depot. He says he got from “there to here” through a lot of hard work and because a lot of people were willing to invest in him.

 “I tried to always focus on the job at hand,” Craig says. “And I was incredibly fortunate to be able to work for some great people during my career who helped me progress.”

Once a mentee now a role model, he says his goal is to uphold the company’s founding values: “take care of your customers, take care of your associates and everything else will take care of itself.”

Craig also is taking care of his alma mater with a $500,000 gift to the Eli Broad College of Business to support building a Graduate Pavilion. This facility, funded in part by a $25 million challenge grant from Eli and Edythe Broad, will benefit students of the Eli Broad School of Management. It’s a part of a bold plan in MSU’s Empower Extraordinary Campaign to provide the latest technology and collaborative learning spaces needed to launch groundbreaking initiatives in education.

“Michigan State was a great economic opportunity to be able to get a great education and a great life,” he says. “I am very happy to be able to give back some of what was given to me.”

This spring, Craig shared insights and advice with students as the Broad College commencement speaker. If the humble candor of his comments to Spartans at a recent reception in Atlanta were any indication, the graduates enjoyed a few surprises.

Consider these nuggets. Admittedly competitive and comfortable out in front, turns out he’s naturally an introvert who likes to unwind with a good jigsaw puzzle. A family man with two daughters, he says he couldn’t have accomplished anything without the support of his wife. Integrity is number one when The Home Depot hires new talent. And the one thing that may have sealed the deal for him to become a Spartan? Watching Michigan State decisively beat Ohio State in a memorable football game.

Craig may not officially change The Home Depot’s signature orange color, but his allegiance to the green and white is as strong as ever.

For more information on making a gift to the Broad College of Business, contact Senior Director of Development Vivian Leung at or call (517) 355-8504.

Author: Lois Furry